Fire crews warn of the dangers of throwing batteries in the bin as battery fires are on the rise

We are all getting used to separating our recycling from our general waste - but now we're being warned of the dangers of binning batteries.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue service have joined forces with local waste disposal centres to hammer home the importance of getting rid of them safely. 

There have been a number of incidents where batteries have exploded, causing fires to ignite.

Waste centres in the region say it is an issue that is on the rise.

Martin Cracknell is from Suez Recycling And Recovery Uk, which runs the Campground Waste tip near Wrekenton.

"For us to see batteries in a huge pile of rubbish and try and get them out, is very very difficult. It is like a needle in a haystack, we don't find them.

"The first point when we actually find them is either when they spark and set off a fire or if we're lucky and we see it fall out on the the floor"

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service deal with a fire at Campground Waste and Recycling Centre in 2021. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

A large fire broke out at the Campground Waste and Recycling Centre in Gateshead last year.

It put the tip out of action for months. Bosses here believe it was caused by an exploded battery. 

It is frustrating for fire crews who say they are preventable fires.

Steve Bewick from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue said: "Across the service we have been involved in incidents where the cause has been put down to batteries.

"The battery could be among hundreds of tonnes of waste and if it causes a fire at the centre of it, it has to be dragged out. It is a slow process. It drains a lot of our resources to deal with it."

Recent data collected by the Environmental Services Association  shows that, between April 2019 and March 2020, lithium-ion batteries alone were thought to be responsible for more than 250 fires at its members’ facilities during the year – or well over a third (38%) of all fires.

How should I dispose of batteries?

  • Batteries should be taken to local waste and recycling centres to be disposed of safely.

  • Never put batteries in the bin.

  • Supermarkets and electrical stores have recycling bins to safely get rid of used batteries.

What happens if I put batteries in the bin?

  • Batteries in general waste are likely to be crushed or punctured once the waste is collected and processed.

  • Once punctured, the batteries can spark causing a fire.

  • Some battery types, like lithium-ion (Li-ion) and nickel-metal Hydride (NiMH), can ignite or even explode when they’re damaged.

  • These batteries are often found in products like laptops, tablets, mobile phones, radio-controlled toys, Bluetooth devices, shavers, electric toothbrushes, power tools, scooters and even e-cigarettes.

  • Battery fires could put lives at risk.